I went to Kyoto in September last year. It's a tad late. I know. I went once in 2017, but it was only for a day so I couldn't see much. I was excited to go this time because I was able to visit one of my friends, Sam. She lives in Kyoto and she’s already been to most of the attractions, but she offered to show me around. It was a lot of fun. We went to some cool restaurants, visited some beautiful places, and it was a nice getaway. Sometimes we read articles and they tell us the top ten things to do in said city or area, but it’s basically a list of ten things that the writer was able to do. It get conveniently worded into a top ten list of recommendations, so I’ll save you the lie that what I did were the only best things to do, but I will tell you what I did do and I won't sugar coat it.
Once I got to Kyoto Station I took the metro to my hotel. I stayed at the Pocket Hotel. It was a pretty nice place. They have a nice lobby where you can talk to other tourists and maybe join them up for exploring the town or grabbing something to eat. I was going to meet my friend for lunch at a burger joint, but I had some time to kill. Nearby was Nisihki Market. I decided to check out out, which basically means pre-eat. I get hungry every three hours. The market runs parallel to a street. There's an overhang so you can check out the market rain or shine. Inside there are lots of food to try and souvenirs to window-shop for or buy. Also, in Japan fruit is super expensive. I wish it weren't so, but I definitely miss eating watermelon, kiwi, mangoes, peaches, plums, nectarines, and other types of fruit for reasonable prices in the states. Good news though, if you are vegetarian, there are a lot of mochi or rice-type snacks in the market.
I met up with Sam at Shake Shack. I just realized how slow of an eater I am even through a time lapse. Fast forward through that please. Looking back I forgot how hot Kyoto was even in the beginning of September. Autumn where were you buddy? Anyway, we ended up getting a coffee flight. it was pretty good. Sam ordered some terrible lemonade with some awful I don't know what. It was brown though. 勿体無い でしょう? hahha 😄. We checked out Nijo Castle and it was beautiful, however we had to cut it short because it was so hot.
The next day we decided to visit Gion and check out the area. Gion is pretty cool. Here you'll see a lot of traditional and cultural buildings. You can also find Geisha's and Maikos. While I tried to be respectful when taking photos, others were not (walking in front of traffic and stopping, snapping photos of people and invading their personal space, and being extremely loud. I guess it's because I have lived in Japan already, but some of these things seem obvious in my opinion. I don't know. Try to be respectful of other cultures when traveling.
We stopped to visit a chocolate themed bar, but it was closing so instead I decided to pick up some craft beer. I was planning on getting it to-go and putting it in my backpack, but the cashier popped the caps and served it. We finished the beers and continued walking.
The Higashiyama District was beautiful and even more so at night. I felt like I was in the movie Midnight in Paris, only in Kyoto instead. The city was alive although it was quiet. The lights glowed, the breeze was warm, and life almost seemed as if it were a century ago. If not for the taxis it would have continued to feel like a dream. We finished up with some awesome beer and karaage. It was a great day.
The next morning we met up to go visit Arashihyama. There were lots of tourists, but it was a fun experience. I appreciated the shade. Something that was cool was that we were given green tea and a small dessert. I didn't realize that was included in the 500 yen entrance fee. We stopped at a few lookout points. There was a river along the pathway and we stopped for lunch. They served a marinated fish and it was so delicious. You know that feeling of being on vacation? Yeah it's a lovely one. It was so peaceful along that river. We had some Kyoto ramen and that was the end of my trip. I am thankful for good friends and new experiences.
I was able to check out Nisihki-Market, Nijo Castle, Higashiyama District, Kinkaku-ji, and the Arasihyama (Storm Mountain) Bamboo Forest. It was hot out, exciting, delicious, and worth it. Try to visit Kyoto!